“What’s important to remember is that while barriers have been used to divide us, as humans we are all the same. Some are more privileged than others, but with that privilege comes a responsibility to do more.”
World-renowned artist and activist, Ai Weiwei, and New York City's premier presenter of contemporary outdoor art, Public Art Fund, are working together to bring an important new art exhibition to the streets of NYC from October to February.
In response to the worldwide plight of migrants and refugees, divisive immigration and border control policies, and the global rise in nationalism, the exhibition, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, will be installed at 300 + sites spanning dozens of New York City neighborhoods in all five boroughs.
Drawing on the artist’s personal experience being detained by the Chinese government and as well as his visits with some of the world’s most vulnerable populations at refugee camps and borders worldwide, the show will make a powerful statement about division and separation at a global, national, local, and personal level.
About the Artworks
"Fences can be used to regulate and detain people, to segregate and to train people to accept the given conditions."
Adapting security fencing in a variety of unexpected ways, Ai Weiwei's artworks will appear at street level, rise from rooftops, emerge between buildings, be affixed to lampposts, frame bus shelters, and seemingly grow out of the urban infrastructure.
Major site-specific sculptures will be installed at iconic locations including Central Park, Washington Square Park, and the Unisphere, while more discrete 2-D and 3-D interventions — including posters with images collected from the artist’s visits to refugee camps around the world — will be installed across New York's five boroughs.
This is your chance to be a part of Ai Weiwei’s revolutionary work by joining a community of artists, activists, and citizens standing up against the forces that separate us.
About Ai Weiwei
"The issue with the migration crisis has been a longtime focus of my practice. And the fence has always been a tool in the vocabulary of political landscaping.”
Given his remarkable life and work, Ai Weiwei stands as a unique international figure. He is both one of the most celebrated contemporary artists and one of the world’s most prominent and respected human rights and social justice activists.
The artist has been in conversation with Public Art Fund about doing a project in New York for more than seven years, but from 2011 to 2015 his passport was confiscated, and he was arrested and detained by the Chinese authorities for his vocal political activism and criticism. We are proud to be working with him at long last to present this work, this year, in this city — a beacon for free expression and democratic ideals.
"When I left New York in the 80s as a student, I had nothing – I could have never dreamed of this project. All these years later, the show is like a love letter to the city and its people.”
About Public Art Fund
This year, Public Art Fund is celebrating its 40th anniversary of free access to the most important art of our time, championing the role of artistic expression in an open society by bringing dynamic contemporary art to the broadest possible audiences across New York City.
Public Art Fund has redefined what public art is and can be. Our more than 450 projects have demonstrated the power and potential of public art to transform the urban environment, engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds, and capture the imaginations of millions.
Why should I support this project?
“When the Berlin Wall fell, there were 11 countries with border fences and walls. By 2016, that number had increased to 70. We are witnessing a rise in nationalism, an increase in the closure of borders, and an exclusionary attitude towards migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization.”
Ai Weiwei and Public Art Fund share a vision that art should be freely accessible to everyone and leave a lasting impact on those who experience it. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, which will be experienced by millions of New Yorkers and visitors from across the globe, is the embodiment of that vision.
This is a moment when it is crucial to stand up for projects that reflect our values. Join Public Art Fund, Ai Weiwei, and our champions around the world by supporting this incredible project!
Risks and challenges
Even with our 40 years of experience producing ambitious and inspiring artwork, this exhibition is a huge undertaking! It’s truly a global project, with partners based on multiple continents, and myriad collaborators across NYC, including city agencies, community leaders, and site partners.
But we’ve always felt that in the challenge, lies the reward.
We’re confident that we can pull this off! As a non-profit, we rely on the support of funders of all kinds to make artists' visions a reality. Your support will help us include all of the sites that Ai Weiwei has envisioned for this show, making it a truly impactful and citywide endeavor. We know that there are enough people out there who share our vision and desire to make this exhibition happen at the scale we’ve dreamed!
Your pledge is tax-deductible! Where goods and services are provided by Public Art Fund in exchange for your contribution, the tax deductible amount excludes the fair market value of the goods and services provided.
This campaign is endorsed by an independent jury selected by Art Basel.
Images courtesy of Ai Weiwei studio.
Documentary images © Human Flow / Ai Weiwei Studio.
Video by SandenWolff.
- (30 days)